We often get calls from customers who have pushed the button for their espresso in the morning, but nothing comes out. They can hear the grinder working, they can hear it clicking and acting like it’s going to make espresso, but no go. Watch Gail as she gives some tips how to troubleshoot this issue before you call someone to repair your machine.
If you’ve just picked up a new grinder or an espresso machine/grinder package and you’re wondering how to get it setup for that perfect shot extraction, check out this video. Gail shows us how to calibrate a grinder with an espresso machine and discusses tips for determining the extraction level and tweaking your puck.
Seattle Coffee Gear’s monthly newsletter, The Grind, hit the ‘press’ today! July’s edition features a Tropical Mango Tea recipe, a directory of our latest YouTube offerings, info on a few featured products — such as the Espresso Gear tools and the new Nespresso machines — and a Grind Special of 10% off Espresso Gear!
Want to learn more? Check it out or sign up here.
Q. I have a Rocky Doser grinder and would like to know what the standard setting is for my Quick Mill Alexia espresso machine. Can you tell me what number you have your demo model set to?
A. Unfortunately, there is no standard setting for grinders and machines. Each grinder is going to be engineered a little bit differently, so while we could give you a rough estimate of the range, the best way to determine your grinder’s setting is to go through the calibration process.
To calibrate your grinder to your espresso machine, you need to time your shots. The standard timing for a double shot is between 25 – 30 seconds for two shot glasses filled to the 1.5 oz line. When you initiate your shot, you want the extraction to begin 7 – 10 seconds after, and then the espresso should run smoothly into the shot glasses until they’re full at that 25 – 30 second range. Note that this is for a standard shot and there are other shot styles out there (ristretto or luongo) that have shorter or longer extraction time frames. For the purposes of calibration, however, we’ll stick with the standard.
Start with your grinder in a lower end setting — for stepped grinders, maybe start around 5 or 10. Grind and tamp and then time the shot: If it’s coming out too slowly, you know your grind is too fine and you’ll need to make it coarser; if it’s coming out too quickly, then the converse is true and you’ll need to make that too-coarse grind finer. Keep an eye on your tamp because that could also being affecting it — too hard means too slow, too soft means too fast.
Continue to experiment until your shot extraction occurs within the standard time frame. Once you have calibrated your grinder to produce a shot at the rate and consistency described above, make a note of it. This is something that will need to be tweaked regularly — especially if you live somewhere with extreme temperature fluctuations throughout the year, as the environment and weather will impact the nature of the bean. You’ll also need to recalibrate if you try different beans, as they will have unique grind requirements.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that calibrating and getting familiar with your grind is a crucial element to producing delicious espresso, so don’t be afraid to experiment or change it often! Espresso is as much art as it is science — tweak it to your individual preferences, regardless of any tenets you may read elsewhere…after all, isn’t that why you decided to make espresso at home in the first place?
You can’t beat the convenience of a one-touch superautomatic espresso machine — but how do the different models compare against each other? Watch Gail as she makes a cappuccino on the Jura Z5, DeLonghi Gran Dama and Saeco Primea one touch superautomatics, including her assessment of the pros/cons of each machine.
The May issue of our monthly newsletter, The Grind, has hit the bricks! Including the Turkish Dee-Lite recipe, our process for making excellent french press coffee, tips on how to brew a strong shot in a superautomatic espresso machine and a directory of all the recent YouTube videos we’ve done over the last month, May’s news is a sweet little compendium of a lot of the content we’ve shared with you here.
But what you won’t find here is The Grind Special — this month: $10 off the Hourglass Cold Brew Coffee Maker! Get this special and all future specials by signing up.
One of the historical wonders of the Saeco superautomatic espresso machine line, the Incanto is a great little machine for a great little price. We purchased a lot of used machines from the manufacturer and are putting them through the wringer to refurbish and certify them for resale.
Our techs are going through them from top to bottom, replacing parts as needed, thoroughly testing and then cleaning them. An original design defect in the steam manifold is being fixed with upgraded parts, so these machines are actually better than brand new!
Watch Gail discuss this machine — how we refurbish them, their features and perfomance and how they compare to other machines on the market today.
We have written before about the no love lost between superautomatic espresso machines and oily, dark roasted coffee beans, but when we got a machine in the repair center last week that was caked to the gills with coffee cement, we just had to film it and show you what we’re talking about.
Watch Gail take apart the grinder of a Saeco Vienna superautomatic espresso machine and show what happens over time to the internal grinders on these machines if someone is using super-dark and oily beans. We definitely recommend sticking with a lighter, drier roast for the long term health of your machine — and now you’ll see why!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Temperature, temperature, temperature. For truly great espresso, there is a fine balance between too hot and not hot enough — and maintaining the temperature from portafilter to lips is very important. Oh yes, yes it is.
The first step is to let your machine warm up all the way; often, folks think that as soon as the light goes out (generally around 1 – 2 minutes after turning it on), the machine is ready to rock. Not so! In fact, all that means is that the machine has reached ideal boiler temperature, but all of the other parts of the machine have not, so if you pull espresso right at that time, the water is going to cool significantly as it travels through colder apparatus to reach your cup. Depending on your machine, we recommend waiting anywhere from 10 – 30 minutes to allow your machine to reach an even heat.
Next step is to pull some water through the system to warm up the brew head, the portafilter and — if it’s a heat exchange — the copper tubing that pulls water from the reservoir to the brew group. Let it run through and fully warm up all the metal components.
Finally, make sure you’re pulling into a preheated cup; you can easily preheat by using the cup as the container to catch the water you just pulled through the brew group, or you can keep your cups on top of your espresso machine and let them toast as your machine warms up.
Do you have any tips on how you maintain ideal temperature for your espresso extractions? Drop us a comment here if there’s something we didn’t cover that you think is essential.